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Definition of Athletic Training

        Athletic Trainers (ATs) are health care professionals who collaborate with physicians. The services provided by ATs comprise prevention, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs work under the direction of physicians, as prescribed by state licensure statutes. ATs are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals, and are under the allied health professions category as defined by Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

State Regulation of Athletic Trainers
  • Athletic trainers are licensed or otherwise regulated in 49 states, and the District of Columbia; efforts continue to add licensure in and California.
  • NATA has ongoing efforts to update obsolete state practice acts that do not reflect current qualifications and practice of ATs under health care reform.
  • Athletic trainers practice under the direction of physicians.
  • ATs work under different job titles (wellness/occupational health manager, physician extender, rehab specialist, etc.).
  • Athletic trainers relieve widespread and future workforce shortages in primary care support and outpatient rehab professions.
  • Academic curriculum and clinical training follow the medical model. Athletic trainers must graduate from an accredited baccalaureate or master’s program; 70 percent of ATs have a master’s degree.
  • 48 states and the District of Columbia require ATs to hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer, Certified” (ATC),

ATs Improve Patient Functional and Physical Outcomes
  • Physicians, hospitals, clinics and other employers demand ATs for their versatile wellness services, and injury and illness prevention skills.
  • Employers demand ATs for their knowledge and skills in manual therapy and similar treatments for musculoskeletal conditions, including back pain.
  • ATs commonly supervise obese clients and patients to safely improve their health and fitness.
  • ATs commonly work with patients with asthma, diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions.

Professional Practice and Education
  • Evidence-based practice and health promotion
  • Prevention measures to ensure highest quality of care
  • Clinical examination and diagnosis
  • Immediate and acute care of injury and illness, especially in emergencies
  • Treatment, rehabilitation and reconditioning
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Psychosocial strategies and referral
  • Health care administration
  • Ethical and legal practice, cultural competence
  • Professionalism and patient-centered approach

The Title of “Athletic Trainer” and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association

        The statutory title of “athletic trainer” is a misnomer but is derived from the profession’s historical roots. Athletic trainers provide medical services to all types of people – not just athletes participating in sports – and do not train people as personal or fitness trainers do. However, the profession continues to embrace its proud culture and history by retaining the title. In other countries, athletic therapist and physiotherapist are similar titles. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association represents more than 39,000 members in the U.S. and internationally, and there are about 40,000 ATs practicing nationally. NATA represents students in 325 accredited collegiate academic programs. The athletic training profession began early in the 20th century, and NATA was established in 1950.

Profile of Athletic Trainers. (2014). National Athletic Trainers' Association. V 214.637.6282 • F 214.637.2206. Accessed 8/11/2017.

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